What Is the Maximum Temperature for a Hot Water Heater?

Need reliable hot water heater services? Call Desert Water Plumbing at 602-922-1834.

You use your water heater every day. Since it’s so important, you’re probably wondering, “What is the maximum temperature for a hot water heater?”

Your water heater’s temperature plays an important role in both safety and comfort. Keep reading to decide the best temperature for you, and if you need help, call Dunlap Foundation Repair, the best option for water heater repair in Peoria, AZ.

Which Maximum Is Best for You?

Different organizations set different guidelines regulating your water heater’s temperature setting. Below are the two options as well as the pros and cons of each.

120 Degrees

The American Society of Sanitary Engineering and the U.S. Department of Energy both recommend 120 degrees as the maximum temperature.

The benefits of this temperature are:

  • Increased energy savings, as your heater runs most efficiently at this level
  • It’s the safest temperature to avoid scalding.
  • It kills most bacteria.
  • It extends the life of your water heater by reducing mineral deposits in your tank.

However, it also has some drawbacks. For example, it can’t kill certain strains of bacteria like Legionnaires’ disease. This temperature may also not keep your water warm if your faucets are far from your water heater.

Choose 120 degrees as your maximum if you’re not worried about certain kinds of bacteria and care about energy efficiency.

140 Degrees

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends 140 degrees as the ideal temperature for water heaters. 

The benefits of this temperature are that it kills more types of bacteria, including Legionnaires’ disease, and is less affected by your faucet’s distance.

The risks of this temperature include:

  • Less energy-efficient and more costly
  • Can shorten the life of your water heater
  • This temperature can scald you in as little as three seconds

You should only set your temperature to 140 degrees if your home is at risk of breeding Legionnaires’ disease. This temperature poses a risk to children and vulnerable adults. Never set your water heater higher than 140 degrees.

Risks of Selecting the Wrong Temperature

If you set your water heater too hot or too low, you might risk any of the following.

Scalding Water

Severe burns pose the greatest risk from a water heater. While setting your heater at 120 degrees can still burn you, it takes around two minutes. When you compare this with how quickly 140-degree water burns you, you can see the difference.

Bacteria Growth

Besides annoyingly lukewarm water, setting your temperature too low risks certain types of bacteria. To avoid the most common bacteria, ensure your water heater is set to 120 degrees. If your home or neighborhood is not at risk from Leggionaires’ disease, you don’t need to set it any higher than that.

Water Heater Damage

Over time, keeping your water heater at temperatures higher than 120 reduces its life expectancy. Higher temperatures increase sediment buildup, requiring more frequent maintenance as well.

What Factors Affect My Water Heater Temperature Setting?

What is the maximum temperature for a hot water heater? Take the following factors into account before you decide.

Distance to the Faucet

When hot water travels a long distance from the water heater to the faucet, it loses much of its heat. If your water comes out lukewarm, try turning up the temperature.

If the water still isn’t hot, you likely have a different problem. Call a professional to make sure.

Type of Plumbing

If your pipes aren’t insulated, your water can lose much of its heat before reaching your faucet. If your house is old, your pipes might not consist of the most heat-conductive materials. In this case, you may need to increase your water temperature beyond 120 degrees.

Energy Source

Whether your water heater is gas or electric affects how well it heats and maintains your water temperature. Gas water heaters can work even when the power is out and heat more efficiently than electric heaters.

How Do I Change My Hot Water Heater Temperature?

You can easily change the water temperature on your water heater by locating its thermostat. You can typically find the thermostat located on the bottom or side of the water heater. Call a professional if you have trouble finding or reading the thermostat.

Call Dunlap Foundation Repair for All Your Plumbing Needs

What is the maximum temperature for a hot water heater? Depending on which guidelines you use, between 120 and 140 degrees.

Need more help? Whether your water heater keeps tripping or the temperature isn’t right, Dunlap Foundation Repair can help. Call us at 602-922-1834 to schedule an appointment today!


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